Big Ten to be well-represented at Super Bowl

Published 10:35 pm Thursday, January 27, 2011

PARK RIDGE, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference will be well-represented on Sunday, Feb. 6, in Super Bowl XLV with 18 former student-athletes and nine coaches with previous conference connections on the rosters of the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Big Ten is the only conference to feature at least one former player from every institution in the Super Bowl. The Big Ten and the SEC (20 players) are the only conferences with 18 or more players on the two Super Bowl squads, followed by the ACC (14), Big 12 (13), MAC (13) and Pac-10 (10).

The Big Ten has also produced the last two Super Bowl Most Valuable Players in former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees (Super Bowl XLIV Champion New Orleans) and Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII Champion Pittsburgh).

All 11 Big Ten schools will be represented on the field, while seven will be represented by an assistant coach. Ohio State and Michigan are tied for the lead among all schools with four active players, followed by Penn State with two. The remaining eight schools lay claim to one former player apiece.

Three assistant coaches have ties to the Wolverines, giving them the most of any conference squad, followed by the Buckeyes with two assistant coaches. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue are also linked to a member of the Packers’ or Steelers’ coaching staff.

Ten former Big Ten student-athletes hailing from eight different institutions highlight the Steelers’ roster. Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall, Indiana wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, Michigan linebackers Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley and free safety Ryan Mundy, Michigan State offensive tackle Flozell Adams, Minnesota tight end Matt Spaeth, Northwestern offensive guard Trai Essex, Ohio State safety Will Allen and Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos all represent the conference on Pittsburgh’s active roster.

The Packers have eight former Big Ten players from six different schools on their roster, including six standouts on the active roster. Hawkeye offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, Wolverine cornerback Charles Woodson, Buckeye linebackers A.J. Hawk and Matt Wilhelm and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett and Nittany Lion tight end Andrew Quarless highlight Green Bay’s roster, while Purdue defensive end Mike Neal and Wisconsin offensive tackle Mark Tauscher are on the team’s injured reserve list.

Nine assistant coaches with Big Ten ties will take part in Super Bowl XLV, including five members of Green Bay’s staff and four members of Pittsburgh’s staff. The Packers’ offensive and defensive coordinators are both linked to Big Ten schools, as offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was an assistant coach at Iowa from 1999-2002 and defensive coordinator Dom Capers was an assistant at Ohio State from 1982-83.

Other coaches with a connection to the Big Ten include tight ends coach Ben McAdoo (assistant at Michigan State), safeties coach Darren Perry (played at Penn State) and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac (played and served as an assistant at Michigan). Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau played at Ohio State from 1956-58. Other members of the Steelers’ coaching staff who will be representing the conference are quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner (assistant at Purdue and Michigan), offensive assistant Harold Goodwin (played and served as an assistant at Michigan) and wide receivers coach Kirby Wilson (played at Illinois).